Re: Approaching a Gallery
This is the $64,000 question.
I have not done this in awhile until recently, I contacted the owner and ended up with a show and 6 month rep agreement. This recent experience differs from my past attempts so let me let me start there.
What I used to do 15 years ago:
I would go to the galleries, look around at the place as a potential patron, enjoyed the art, sometimes actually acquiring something, spoke with the staff and looked for a fit.
Does this galleries art price in my market?
Does this galleries art align with my art's style?
Does this galleries style align with my market?
Does this gallery do openings, are they promoting a mailing list?
Does this galleries staff know what the hell they are doing?
If I liked what I see, I ask when the curator / manager / owner is available to talk (assuming she isn't there). I come back (if needed) and explain how I feel about their gallery, their staff, their marketing efforts and if I purchased something, I'd certainly let that be known. I then asked PERMISSION to show them my portfolio / work as I explain my success in the past. Before I had a gallery experience to refer to I would talk about the pieces I've sold to folks who are not family and friends. By doing this the gallery rep knows I've invested time and thought into this discourse, which in turn makes them feel they ought to give me a bit of their time. Assuming the decision maker agrees we align we negotiate an agreement.
The difference today:
I know more people. There is a very affluent area in this region. I have sold several works to people who live there. In this area there are two galleries both owned by the same folks. I know a guy who is friends with the owners and is a patron of these galleries. So I checked out his web site, found some of the answers to the above questions. I called and spoke to a staff member at the gallery, got the price point answered. I mentioned that I share a friend with the owner and asked when he might be available. I called back then, spoke to the owner, we spoke about our friend and how he's doing. My intention was to set a time to meet him and duplicate the above approach. Instead he turned the conversation asking if I was an artist. He asked for my URL and looked while we are the phone. He asked me to bring some stuff up. I did and we signed an agreement a week latter after a bit of negotiating. I am convinced from other artist I know that he never would have looked at my stuff without me knowing someone he knows and respects. It was not what I know but instead as the old maxim states; who I know.
Does all this mean that to get into a gallery you must coincidently know a friend of the decision maker? NO, but it certainly does not hurt. For me it's all been networking. I could not count the number of times it's my phone ringing and NOT me dialing, all because of networking. So if I were starting out, I would do the first and continuing doing the second. People love to help, so ask.